The 3-4-Three Challenge team put on a TSD Road Rally on December 2nd, 2013. The Rally began at Subaru of Champaign County in Savoy, Illinois, and ended on the historic courthouse square in Monticello, IL. Gary Patrick, blog author, was the event chairman and Rallymaster. Team members Angela Patrick (Road Rally Driver) and Emanuel Martin (Autocross Co-Driver) assisted with checkpoint operations, along with friend Kim Johnson. Michel Watkins assisted with hospitality at registration. The Rally was a trap-free tour that combined “Jogularity” (i.e. official mileage and car zero time with each route instruction) with Tulip diagrams. There were 16 total controls, all passage style. Because of the control type, automatic time allowance delays were used in scoring.
The competitors started arriving at Subaru of Champaign County around 11:30 and by 12:30 there were 18 individuals ready to compete in 9 cars. A few of the local and not-so-local regulars were there as well as several new faces, some from quite far away. Adam Harden and Andrew Ecker came all the way from Festus, MO, to try their first Road Rally. Abrin Schmucker from Chicago, IL, was also a first-timer and he brought not one but two navigators, James Fox and Ken Everaerts! Other rookies included the local team of Mark Leonard and Geri Horvath, Tim Tavenor of Springfield, IL, (Navigating for Dan Marx) and Adam Deffenbaum (Driving with Tom Ingles as Navigator).
At 12:40 Rallymaster Gary Patrick conducted a brief rookie meeting. Basic concepts and terminology were touched upon, but the schedule left no time to go into any subject in any kind of detail. Gary was unsure how much of the information was being absorbed. The rookie meeting ran a few minutes longer than scheduled, and the all-crew meeting got off to a late start. The Rallymaster worked through his points quickly, but it was several minutes after the published “first car off” time before he was finished. Luckily there was ample time for the tire warm up and odometer legs. Despite the late start, all cars made it to the end of the odometer leg before their out-time.
The first half of the rally was a double loop around the area between White Heath, Mahomet, and Mansfield. A few teams had trouble early on. Chuck Hansen and Bob Demeritt in car 1 (Ford Contour SVT) suffered a flat tire just past checkpoint 2 which put them about 15 minutes behind schedule. The “Chicago Three” in car 5 (Subaru WRX) were already into delay time by Checkpoint 2, not even 4 miles past the “odo” marker. Leonard and Horvath in car 3 (Subaru STI) made a navigational error somewhere after checkpoint 3 and went M.I.A. They didn’t make checkpoint 4 and didn’t answer their phone when the Rallymaster’s attempted to call them. The rest of the teams seemed more or less on track until Checkpoint 5. Deffenbaugh and Ingles in car 8 (Mazda 3) made a course following error which caused them to miss checkpoints 5 and 6. They managed to figure out their mistake and were able to pick the route back up before Checkpoint 7 on a 5.5 minute delay. Hansen and Demeritt in Car 1 missed a turn before checkpoint 5 . The were able to recover, but were up to 20+ minutes of delay time. Eventually every team but Leonard and Horvath in car 3 made checkpoint 8, the last before the mid-rally break in Monticello.
At the half way point Russ Bedford and Mike Blackwelder in car 8 (Subaru WRX) held both the Seat-of-Pants class as well as overall rally lead with 48 points. Brian and Sandy Grable in car 7 (Ford Escape) were 2nd in class with 94. Another 13 behind in S.O.P. was Jonathan Flora in car 6 (Subaru Outback), running sans navigator. Thanks to the off course excursion and subsequent missed checkpoints, Deffenbaugh and Ingles in car 8 were sitting 137 points behind the S.O.P. class leader.
Hansen and Demeritt in car 1 seemed relieved just to have made it to the break location. As the only competitors in the Navigational class, they probably didn’t expect to be sitting in 6th place overall at mid-way point with a score of 143. They were eager, however, to get to the starting point for the second half and resume the role of lead car.
In the Novice class, Schmucker, Fox, and Everaerts in car 5 held a slim lead over Harden and Ecker in car 2 (Mitsubishi Lancer), 115 to 126. Not far behind were Marx and Tavenor in car 4 (MINI Cooper) with 151. Leonard and Horvath in car 3 were still A.W.O.L.
With all the cars besides #3 back in sequence, the second half of the rally commenced at 3:16 pm from the south side of Allerton Park. The remaining route was a double loop of the area between Allerton Park, Cerro Gordo, and Argenta. Having adapted well to the rally format, the 8 remaining teams stayed more or less in sequence through the second half. Hansen and Demeritt in car 1 showed what they were really capable of with their navigational equipment by picking up just 4 points total in the first 5 second-half legs. At the same time, the Grables in car 7 were nibbling into the class and overall lead, cutting 15 points off their deficit by checkpoint 13. At the other end of the S.O.P. standings, Ingles, navigating in car 8, was having trouble harnessing his driver. Deffenbaugh, an accomplished autocrosser but rally newbie, was struggling to come to grips with the concept of going something other than “Fast As Possible” and was steadily getting the team further and further ahead of schedule. The rookie teams in cars 2, 4, and 5 all stayed on-course and relatively close to on-time. The points margins between positions fluctuated, but the relative positions stayed constant through 13.
Just as the Rallymaster was about to close checkpoint 11 his phone rang. It was the crew from checkpoint 10/12. Just as they were about to move the checkpoint marker from one side of the road (to close checkpoint 10) to the other (to open checkpoint 12) Leonard and Horvath in car 3 were spotted. They were nearly 30 minutes behind, but seemed determined to complete the route to the finish. The crew was able to get them an in-time. The Rallymaster had to close 11 before car 3 arrived, but observed from 14 that they were still on course in the vicinity of 11 and had shaved off a couple minutes of lateness.
Checkpoint 14 proved to be the decisive point in the rally in for the leading two teams. The Grables in car 7 collected 18 penalty points while Bedford and Blackwelder in car 9 came in with just 2. In one leg, all the work Brian and Sandy had done since the break to close the gap to the rally leaders was undone. Barring a major mistake, it seemed as though Russ and Mike were cruising towards victory. Meanwhile, Deffenbaugh and Ingles in car 8 had gotten more than a half minute ahead and were collecting “max” penalties of 50 points.
While most of the teams were passing through checkpoints 15 and 16, the Rallymaster waited at 14 to get an in time for Leonard and Horvath in car 3. The crew at checkpoint 15 was aware that car 3 was still coming, but the Rallymaster was unable to make contact with the crew at checkpoint 16 to alert them. Fortunately he knew a more direct route there than the course the competitors were following and was able to get to the last checkpoint in time to get car 3 their in-time just as dusk was settling in.
From the last checkpoint, the competitors and workers proceeded to El Toro Restaurant on the Courthouse Square in Monticello where the staff was kind enough to move all the tables in the center section together so the all competitors could sit together. While the Rallymaster compiled scores, the teams shared stories over drinks and food. Just as most were finishing their meals, the Rallymaster was ready to announce the final results and award event T-shirts to the class winners.
As anticipated, Bedford and Blackwelder in car 9 were able to hold their lead through the last two legs and finished first in the Seat-Of-Pants class and first overall with 88 points. The Grables in car 7 held on to finish 2nd in class and overall with 136 points. Flora, competing solo in car 6, capped an excellent rally with a perfect “0” on the last leg and finished third in SOP with 152. Deffenbaugh and Ingles in car 8, who showed a lot of spirit, finished fourth in class with 388.
Hansen and Demeritt in car 1 fared much better in the second half than the first. In the final 9 legs they scored just 8 points. It was only enough to move them into 3rd place overall, however.
The Novice class cars finished in the same order they had stood at the break. Schmucker, Fox, and Everaerts in car 5 finished first with a very respectable 178 points. Harden and Ecker in car 2 were close behind in second with 196. Marx and Tavenor in car 4 were the only Novice team to complete the second half with no delay time and finished 3rd in class with 251 points. Leonard and Horvath were 4th in class but 1st in perseverance, finding their way to the finish with 502 points after having fallen over a half hour behind.
Overall the event was a great success. Despite a few challenges, all the competitors made it to the finish. Three of the four rookie teams did so with minimal course following issues. While navigation and staying on time within a certain window was fairly easy, the veterans still seemed sufficiently challenged to earn low scores. Most importantly, smiles were abundant at the finish. All in all, it seemed everyone enjoyed themselves, even Mark and Geri who drove around in car 3 for over an hour and a half without seeing a checkpoint.
If you missed the 2012 Monticello Monte rally you missed a good time. Next year the Rallymaster hopes to make it even more fun. Don’t make the same mistake two years in a row! Watch the Champaign County Sports Car Club’s Road Rally Schedule page for information about the 2013 event.
FOR A COMPLETE ALBUM OF PHOTOS FOLLOW THIS LINK